Pierce argues that if an ethic and national future exists for the state of Israel, then it isn't based upon God's “unconditional” covenants with Abraham and David (the traditional Dispensational view). Based upon his exegetical study, he argues that none of the covenants in fact are unconditional. Instead, each of the covenants is presented in a three-fold pattern where:
On Monday of Passion week, Jesus is confronted by the chief priests and elders of the people while He was teaching in the temple courts. After He deflects their question regarding whether He has authority to teach, He trounces them with three questions in parable form regarding whether they are citizens in the Kingdom community of God for they've failed “to pay attention to the initiatives taken by by God” (Nolland, 867).
How can Jesus say Israel is forsaken but still chosen? Is there a future for ethnic Israel in the program of God?
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'" (Luke 13:34-35).
As Jesus marched to Jerusalem to face the cross, He lamented over the spiritual hardness of Jerusalem despite His mission to reach them and draw them into His arms like a mother hen cares for her chicks, summarizing His reaction to their track record of killing God's prophets. Then Jesus speaks a harsh word “Your house is left to you desolate,” which rings of judgment. Several interpretations have been offered for the meaning of 'house,' such as Bultmannn's interpretation as 'the world,' but “a better possibility is that the word refers to the temple” (Marshall, 576), which happened literally with the destruction of the temple in 70AD. Hindsight raises the question as to whether Jesus' words were prophetic in this regard.
The exact location of the biblical city of Capernaum is not certain, but there are two serious sites on the north shores of the Sea of Galilee. Unlike Nazareth, Capernaum was referred to as an important city, which the mile-long archeological ruins support. The city flourished due to its proximity to a major East-West highway which crossed the Jordan river. Jesus spent an incredible amount of time in Capernaum, so much so that Mark refers to it as a place where Jesus was “at home” (Mark 2:1). It was in this city that numerous biblical accounts took place:
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Luke's Gospel tells us that Nazareth is the town “where [Jesus] had been brought up.” The small town of Nazareth in the time of Christ is generally accepted to still be identified with modern Nazareth (Buttrick, 524). The city is approximately 20 miles from the Mediterranean and 15 miles from the Sea of Galilee which made it enough out of the way that few commercial business passed through. The city's altitude of 1300 feet above sea level made for a moderate climate with favorable rainfall for vegetation, but the overall lack of springs forced the city to rely heavily on cisterns. In Christ's time Nazareth was a small secluded village off the beaten path, insignificant in the fact that it doesn't appear any Hebrew literature (the Old Testament, the Talmud, the Midrash or Josephus). This reputation is furthered by Nathanael's reply in John's gospel: “can anything good come from Nazareth?” as a moderner might discount any backwater town out in the sticks with only one stop light.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.